Elections Canada Investigates Online Voting
In an official report from Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Mark Mayrand, on the 41st General Election of May 2nd, Mayrand has announced Elections Canada’s pursuit of electronic voting.
Mentioning the fact that Canadian society continues to experience rapid change, Elections Canada has seen expectations of more convenient government services. Along this line in general, Canadians are increasingly expecting to be able to conduct business online. Thus Elections Canada has been pursuing the option of providing e-services, says the report.
Part of this process, Elections Canada has asked for the Canada Elections Act to be amended to allow an offering of a full line of services for online registrations. Already, Alberta and British Columbia have developed online voter registration while Ontario is working on implementing a similar system. Elections Canada expects to offer limited online registration services by the spring of 2012.
Additionally, in pursuit of this goal, Elections Canada is calling for the possibility of alternative authentication methods in voting, transmission of information and filing of returns other than the traditional signature.
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Online voting wise, Elections Canada plans to carry out studies on alternative voting methods and test the possibility of an electronic voting process in pursuit of use during general elections and by-elections, subject to approval from the House of Commons and a Standing Senate Committee. Analysis on Internet based voting as a convenient way of casting one’s ballot has already been pursued by Elections Canada. Approval for this new electronic voting process is a goal of the Chief Electoral Office to be offered in a by-election held after 2013.
This report shows that Elections Canada is clearly recognizing technology’s abilities and use in day to day operations. Advancing this goal could potentially encourage more citizens’ participation in elections in general, an important objective.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.